Midseason “acquistions.”

Yankee Stadium Frieze

A lot is made, has been made and will be made of the Yankees’ moves this offseason and what may be coming later in spring training and later yet, at the trade deadline this summer.

But let’s not forget two Yankee “acquisitions” that will be coming this summer.

The returns of Jordan Montgomery and Didi Gregorius.

Hopefully both would be healthy and ready to contribute. If so, both would be a big lift and could give a jolt to the team mid-season.

If so, no trade is necessary.

Let’s not think about Jacoby Ellsbury also being in that mix for now. That’s more a case of I’ll believe it when I see it.


Machado signs; Newcombe and Casale pass away.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Manny Machado has finally signed. A 10 yr., $300MM deal with SD.

The Yanks weren’t going to give the years and money. Instead of putting all their eggs in that basket (and they are only going to miss Didi for 1/2 a season and have Andujar), they decided to take the money spent on one player and instead, fill multiple holes.

With that money, they replaced the lost Robertson with Ottavino, re-signed Britton, signed LeMahieu (an upgrade over Torreyes or Wade as a utility infielder), brought back Happ, traded for Paxton.

You can also say they used the $ to sign Severino to that extension.

And for SS, they only have to pay Tulo the league minimum in order to fill in for Didi until Didi is ready to return. Toronto picks up the rest. If Tulo can stay healthy and be a semblance of what he was…

Dodger legend Don Newcombe passed away at the age of 92. With Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, his Dodger teammates, Newcombe was one of the first great black players in MLB.

Newcombe won the ROY, CYA, AND MVP Awards in his career.

He pitched for the Dodgers 1949-1951, missed two full seasons due to the Korean Conflict and military service during that time, then pitched for the Dodgers 1954-1958. He also pitched for Reds 1958-1960 and the Indians 1960.

He won the ROY Award in 1949, going 17-8, 3.17, ERA+ 130. He finished 8th in MVP voting that year, and lost a classic 1-0 duel to Allie Reynolds in Game 1 of the WS that year when Tommy Henrich homered off him in the bottom of the ninth. Henrich’s HR was only the fifth Yankees’ hit in the game, and Newcombe struck out 11. Reynolds pitched a two-hit shutout.

Newcombe was a 20 game winner in 1951, but is remembered for starting the third playoff game against the Giants and for taking a 4-1 lead into the ninth. He gave up hits to three of the first four batters in the bottom of the ninth, making it 4-2, and was pulled for Ralph Branca, who gave up Bobby Thomson’s 3-run pennant-winning walk-off “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” HR.

Newcombe missed all of 1952 and 1953 due to military service. He was a bit rusty in 1954 after the two-year layoff, but then he won 20 for the 1955 WS winning Dodgers (the only Dodger team to win it all while in Brooklyn). That year marked his 4th and last All-Star appearance, and he finished 7th in MVP voting.

1956 was his best year as he won both the CYA (the first ever, and at that time awarded to only one pitcher) and MVP Awards, going 27-7, and leading the majors in wins.  For the second straight year, he led in winning percentage, since he was 20-5 in 1955.

In 1957, the Dodgers’ last year in Brooklyn, Newcombe slumped from 27-7 to 11-12. He fought (and later conquered) problems with alcohol. Some of those problems developed because of his WS troubles against the Yankees (more on that in a bit). After starting 0-6 for the LA Dodgers in 1958, he was dealt to the Reds, and his combined record in 1958 was just 7-13.

He was decent, 13-8, 3.16 in 1959 for Cincy but 1960 was his last year in the majors.

His 162 game average was 16-10, 3.56, ERA+ 114. He won 149, lost 90.

He was an excellent hitter for a pitcher, hitting .271 with 15 HR and 108 RBI in his career. In 1955, he hit .359 with 7 HR and 23 RBI.

He hit over .300 in four seasons, amazing for a pitcher.

After recovering from alcoholism himself, he helped others with substance abuse.

In five WS starts, all against the Yankees, he was 0-4, 8.59.

Also passing was Jerry Casale at the age of 85, back on Feb. 9. Casale’s best season was for the 1959 Red Sox, when he went 13-8 with an ERA of 4.31. He was 17-24, 5.08 in his MLB career. He was with Boston 1958-1960, the Angels 1961 and the Tigers 1961-1962. Not a bad hitter for a pitcher, he hit .216 with 4 HR.


Giants Manager Bochy to retire after this upcoming season.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Bruce Bochy, SF Giants manager who led the Giants to WS titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, has announced that he will retire after the 2019 season.

Besides those 3 WS titles, Bochy managed the 1998 SD Padres to the NL pennant. They were swept by the Yankees in that year’s WS.

Going into this, his final season, Bochy’s managerial record is 1926-1944 in 24 seasons. A .498 winning percentage. Despite the losing record, the 3 WS titles in five seasons may merit him HOF consideration, as well as his longevity, 25 years what with this season.

He managed the Padres 1995-2006 and the Giants 2007-present.

He has managed 8 teams to the postseason.

As a catcher from 1978-1980, then 1982-1987, Astros, Mets and Padres, he never played in more than 63 games in a season. In 802 at bats, he hit .239 with 26 HR.

162 g. average .239-12-42, OPS+ 92.

He did play a little for the 1980 Astros (NL West Champs) and 1984 Padres (NL Champs).



So what constitutes a HOF starter today?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

You can’t compare eras.

You cannot compare a starter today who pitches 215 innings a year to someone from 50 years ago who pitched 300 or more.

You can’t compare a 280 game winner from 50 years ago to a 220 game winner today.

So what does constitute a HOF starter today?

Let’s look at eras. Let’s go back 50 years to 1969 and compare things to 2018.

In 1969, these ballparks were still in play.

Yankee Stadium (original, with a 457′ LCF and 463′ CF).
Tiger Stadium, 440 to CF
Forbes Field, 457 to LCF and 435 to CF
St. Louis was 414 to CF (before fences were brought in a bit)
Jarry Park Montreal was 420 to CF
Before they brought the CF fence in in Minnesota, CF was 425
KC 421 to CF
Connie Mack Stadium still had that spite fence in RF.

So you can see bigger distances in 1969 as opposed to today. Maybe smaller down the lines in some places, but you don’t see too many 420 or more signs on outfield fences today.

In 1969, a 4-man rotation. Today, a 5-man. Instead of 40 starts a year, you may get 32 or 33.

1969 no DH in AL, now there is.

Much better bullpens today with much greater bullpen utilization.

Let’s look at leaders.

1969: IP  leader (majors) Gaylord Perry 325 1/3 IP
2018: Scherzer 220 2/3 OVER 100 IP LESS

Complete Games
1969:        Bob Gibson 28
2018: 8 pitchers tied with TWO each,


1969: McLain 9
2018: NINETEEN pitchers tied at ONE each.

Wins: 25 for Seaver, 24 for McLain in 1969.

2018: Snell had 21, but in the NL three tied at 18 for the NL lead.

It is impossible to compare today’s pitchers, as far as worthiness for the HOF, to the Gibsons, Koufaxs, Carltons, Seavers, Marichals of 50 years ago.

You now have to grade according to a different standard.

But, what exactly is that new standard?

How far must that bar be lowered now?



CC Officially Announces 2019 is it.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

CC Sabathia officially announced Saturday what was known for a while (since he signed his 2019 contract)—that 2019 will be his last season. CC turns 39 in July.

Here are the highlights of his career so far:

246 wins. Needs 4 for 250, 10 to tie Andy Pettitte on the all-time list.
2986 strikeouts. Needs 14 for 3000.

Cleveland 2001-2008, Milwaukee 2008, Yankees 2009-2019. If a Hall of Famer, it may be difficult to distinguish between Cleveland and the Yankees for the cap for the Hall of Fame Plaque (much like Mussina couldn’t decide between Baltimore and the Yankees).

6X All-Star. 2009 ALCS MVP. Won 1 WS (2009 Yankees). 2nd in ROY in 2001. Twice led the majors in wins (2009 and 2010). 21 game winner in 2010.

Led league in starts 2x, CG once, shutouts once. IP once. 2007 CYA winner.

Got MVP consideration 5x, finishing 6th in 2008. In 2008 he led the majors in GS, CG and IP (didn’t lead league because he split time between the AL and NL). CYA consideration 5X.

15 or more wins in a season 8X.

162 game average 16-10, 3.70, ERA+ 117.

10-7, 4.31 in the postseason.

.212-3-15 as a hitter.

With the Yankees, he’s had three careers.

The first of staff ace, 2009-2012, when he averaged 18-7, 3.22 in those four years.

The second of struggling, aging pitcher who appeared finished. From 2013-2015, he went 23-27, 4.81. An average of 8-9, 4.81 per season. He missed most of 2014.

He kicked alcohol addiction and reinvented himself from 2016-2018 to be a serviceable backend-of-the-rotation pitcher, going 32-24, 3.76 over the past three seasons. If he can maintain that average and go 11-8, 3.76 in 2019 as the #5 starter, I think we’ll take it.

Hall-of-Fame? We’ll see. Some votes have me confused.

For example

CC 16-10, 3.70 162 game average. ERA+ 117. 10-7, 4.31 postseason. 1 CYA, 5x MVP consideration.
Black ink 22/40 (2nd # average HOF); Gray ink 174/185; HOF standards 113/100, HOF monitor 46/50. He is ranked 71st in JAWS for Starting pitcher, and his WAR numbers are about 80% of the average Hall-of Famer. WAR numbers:  62.7/39.4/51 (HOF are 73.4/50/61.7 average). With 10 wins he matches Pettitte’s 256.

Andy Pettitte, meanwhile, averaged 17-10, 3.85, ERA+ 117. 19-11, 3.81 postseason. 5x WS Champ as opposed to CC’s once. Never won the CYA, finished 2nd once, considered for it 5x, same as CC. 3rd in ROY 1995. MVP consideration 2x (CC was 5). Pettitte won 20 games in a season twice (CC once). 8x 15 or more wins in a season (same as CC). But black ink 7/40; Gray ink 103/185 (both less than CC). HOF standards 128/100 (better); HOF monitor 44/50.   JAWS 90th. War numbers 60.2/34.1/47.2.

Andy is slightly below CC, but Andy only got 9.9% of the vote this year from the writers. The HGH usage hurt him. There is no HGH hints with CC, but if Andy got only 9.9% of the vote, how is CC THAT much better than Andy where CC gets the 75% or more to get in (he won’t be eligible until 2025).

This isn’t a knock on CC’s HOF credentials, but a puzzlement on Andy only getting 9.9%. Andy wasn’t a strikeout pitcher (didn’t get 2500 K, while CC is almost at 3000) but to me, there isn’t THAT much difference between the two ….

But then, you wonder …. CC at 246 wins … HOF or not? Andy 256 has a long way to go to get 75% of the writer’s vote. Mike Mussina with 270 wins finally got in on his sixth year on the ballot.

We’ll forget about Clemens and his 354 wins (Steroid allegations), but just note two others not in the Hall: Jim Kaat (283 wins) and Tommy John (288). In the cases of Kaat and John, maybe they hung on too long. Both pitched into their 40s and maybe that is what people remember the most—them hanging on possibly a bit too long. As for John, only two pitchers (Clemens with the steroid issue and Bobby Mathews, a pitcher from the 1870s and 1880s) have more wins but are not in the Hall. Only one more (Tony Mullane 1880s and 1890s) isn’t in the Hall before you get to Kaat.

Those pre-1900 pitchers are a far different breed and ballgame.

But still, I’m scratching my head over who is HOF material and who isn’t from those guys I listed.  It’s a fine line between them getting in or not.



New Daddy Betances reports in a few days.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Dellin Betances and his wife became parents of a baby boy, Dellin, Jr. the other day, so Betances will be reporting to the Yankees spring training camp a little later than his pitching mates. Probably Monday, according to manager Aaron Boone.


Yanks sign Severino to 4 year, $40MM extension.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yankees avoided arbitration with Luis Severino by signing him to a 4 yr. $40MM extension.

It will be interesting to see who has a bounce-back year this year. The Yanks won 100 games last year despite Gardner hitting .236, Sanchez .186 and Bird .199. Imagine if they would have been their normal selves.

Speaking of Gardner, will he lead off this year or bat 9th? There is a case for Aaron Hicks leading off. The only problem is, on a team so righty-leaning, Hicks’ switch-hitting bat may be needed in the middle of the lineup.

But according to a recent article (I believe NY Post?) here are some interesting numbers from Hicks last year. .248-27-79, 11 SB, drew 90 walks.

In the three places where he had 100 or more plate appearances in 2018,

Batting first .276-11-21
3rd .222-6-19
6th .223-5-20.

Hmmm… interesting. And Hicks is more likely to lead off a game with a HR than Gardy.

We’ll see.